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Learn More About Copper

At Electrum, we work with a wide variety of materials like gold, silver and nickel. Today, we decided to talk to you about copper, which as you may know, is a metal that is a big part of our electrical infrastructure by being one the main components of our electrical wires.

Copper is a Metal That is Mostly Known for its Electrical Properties

Copper’s Properties

Copper (chemical symbol Cu and atomic number 29) is a ductile metal that is a very high thermal and electrical conductor. In its purest form, copper is soft and malleable. It is mainly used as a heat and electricity conductor, as a building material and as a constituent in multiple alloys.

From Where Does Copper is Being Extracted?

Copper mainly comes from porphyry copper deposits that contain 0,4 to 1% copper located in large open pit mines but can also be be extracted by using the In-situ leach process. The world’s top copper producers are Chile, United States, Indonesia and Peru. Copper is also 100% recyclable and it is estimated that 80% of the copper ever mine is still used today because of recycling.

How is Copper Used?

Here, at Electrum, we use copper for copper plating applications. However, copper has many other uses. Here are a few of them :

  • Wire and Cable

    Copper is the preferred metal for almost every type of electrical wiring. In fact, it is its most important market and it includes various kinds of wires such as building wire, communications cable and automotive wires, among others.
  • Electric Motors

    Copper is a great metal to be used in electric motors because its great conductivity ensures the best electrical energy efficiency.
  • Architecture

    For hundreds of years, copper has been integrated to architectural creations as a durable, corrosion resistant and weatherproof metal. In ancient times, copper was used to build roofs, flashings rain gutters and ever doors. Today, its architectural use has been expanded to include handrails, bathroom fixtures, countertops and many more.
  • Antibiofouling Applications

    Because it is biostatic (bacteria do not grow on it), copper has become a commonly used material in the aquaculture industry because it is antimicrobial, prevents biofouling and is corrosion-resistant.
  • Antimicrobial Applications

    Many copper alloys (more than 355) are proven to kill more than 99,9% of disease-causing bacterias within just 2 hours when cleaned regularly. This makes antimicrobial copper products interesting in places that need to be as bacteria free as possible such as hospitals (copper door knobs are used to reduce the transfer of diseases).

This concludes our article on copper. We hoped that reading it has made you aware that copper is a very useful metal and more than just electrical wires.

The Different Processes of Electroplating

Electroplating is the science of plating one metal onto another by hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is the separation of chemical bonds by water. This is done to either add chemical properties to the object being coated, to increase its resistance to corrosion or simply as an embellishment.

There are four main procedures in electroplating. Each one suits a different product better than another. One will be better for complex parts, another will be better for mass production etc. The four main procedures are: Mass Plating, Rack Plating, Continuous Plating and Line Plating.

Mass Plating

As the title would suggest, mass plating is best for electroplating mass quantities at once. All the parts to be electroplated at the same time which is efficient, but could cause scratching or entanglement of the parts.

Rack Plating

Rack plating is best used for plating fragile, large or complex parts. It consists of placing the part on a rack then submerging it in the plating solution.

Continuous Plating

Small parts like tubes and wiring continuously go through anodes at a high speed.

Line Plating

This is electroplating in the form of a production line. It uses fewer chemicals and so is cheaper than other options (like rack plating, for example).

Those are the basic concepts behind the four main processes of electroplating. To learn more or to answer any questions you may have regarding electroplating, feel free to contact us. We will be more than happy to answer you and help clear up any confusion you may have.

Military Uses of Electroplating

Electroplating is a fine art that balances equal parts electronics and chemistry. It has been utilized by modern militaries for a variety of reasons. Whether it is establishing electrical current or resisting chemicals, whether it is to make a gear that much tougher or to make an engine piston resist corrosion, electroplating has been essential for military operations, especially when it comes to movable parts and vehicles. Here is how electroplating saves lives.

CARC Painting

One of the many uses for electroplating technology is CARC paint. CARC stands for Chemical Agent Resisting Coating. It is a layer of specifically designed paint that protects from chemical warfare and biological weaponry. Used mostly for modern military vehicles, it is meant to create a corrosive resistant shell around the vehicle to keep the passengers safe and keep the machine operational.

Protecting the passengers is not the CARC’s only objective though. It is also engineered to resist damage and removal during decontamination processes. Chemical and biological warfare is extremely dangerous and one of the most vicious aspects of modern warfare, so decontamination and safety are clearly a top priority after an encounter involving chemicals. It is critical the CARC is not removed by intense decontamination, as it exposes the vehicle to further damage.

Layering: Paint and Protection

In order to add another layer of security while all the while maintaining camouflage patterns and painting, most military vehicles use electroplating. Not solely for CARC either, electroplating allows for very small components to be protected by shells and layers of other metals that can resist even more than the original bearings or pieces of machinery.

WWII

Electroplating came into the military scene in World War II, involved in everything from the chrome plating of caliber-50 gun barrels to the nickel plating of components on the Manhattan Project itself. From Aeronautics to the navy, electroplating was hailed for its unmatched ability to coat more fragile components of machinery with tougher and less corrodible metals. It was also great for setting up electrical currents and increasing conductivity where need be. Silver plating was used on the bearings of aircraft engines and copper plating was used to protect steel surfaces.

Many of these practices are still used. Even though technology has changed warfare entirely, many of the bits and pieces are the same, and equally need to be protected. Electroplating is the best way to do that without hindering the efficiency of the machine being plated.

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